Siblings from a triplet that was separated at birth and given up for adoption as part of an experiment are demanding compensation from the Jewish organisation they say is responsible for it.
Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman were in 1961 separated at birth in New York and adopted by three different families with varying financial means for a controversial experiment that sought to determine to what degree personalities are shaped by external circumstances.
They were placed in foster care by the now-defunct Louise Wise Agency as part of a study by the Manhattan Child Development Centre, which would later merge into the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
The triplets were brought in for evaluations periodically by Dr. Peter Neubauer, a psychoanalyst with the Manhattan Child Development Centre, according to the report.
“It was cruel; it was wrong,” Kellman told the Post, which recounted the triplets’ story in writing about a new documentary about them, “Three Identical Strangers.” Featured at the Sundance Film Festival last month, it was celebrated as one of the event’s most memorable works.
Galland committed suicide in the 1990s. Now Kelklman and Shafran are demanding compensation, an apology and additional details about their case from the Jewish Board.
The boys never knew of one another’s existence until they were 19, when a coincidence at a college in rural Sullivan County reunited Galland and Shafran. Kellman was reconnected with them soon after when he and his adoptive mother saw news coverage and realised that he was their identical sibling.
“It’s not like we didn’t have great parents — we did,” Shafran told the Post. “But they can’t play God and they did. And for that they should do something,” he said, underscoring his hope for an apology and monetary compensation.
Neubauer’s sealed study, which has long been housed at Yale University, was not released, and requests over the years by its subjects to unseal it were rebuffed. After the completion of the film, director Timothy Wardle said, some of the thousands of pages of the study were made public but they were raw and heavily redacted.
In a statement to the Post, the Jewish Board distanced itself from the study.
“The Jewish Board does not endorse the study undertaken by Dr. Peter Neubauer, and is appreciative that the film has created an opportunity for a public discourse about it,” the statement said. “The Jewish Board had no role in the separation of twins adopted through Louise Wise,” it added.
The Jewish Board employs more than 3,000 people and provides services in areas including mental health, early childhood development and domestic violence. The nonprofit organisation is nearly 150 years old, and as of 2014 had a budget in excess of £140million ($200 million).
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”